Move Over, Bonuses: What Really Drives Employee Referrals

If you don’t know by now, employee referrals are the way to get most of your highest-quality candidates who stay longer at your company —and reduce time-to-hire.

 

You might already have an employee referral program in place...but maybe it’s not getting the results you want. That could be because your program’s main focus is bonuses, which might not be as effective as you think. According to a LinkedIn survey, only 6% of employees make referrals for money. The other reasons?

 

  • 35% of employees make referrals to help their friends

  • 26% of employees make referrals to be seen as a valuable colleague

  • 32% of employees make referrals to help their company

 

If money isn’t the only motivator, how else can you get quality referrals? You can start by using these survey insights about what does work. Here are some creative ways to tap into all three of the motivators that help increase the amount of employee referrals:

1. Host a “Bring a Friend” event every quarter for employees who want to help their friends.

Consider hosting a small happy hour, or an open house, complete with a complimentary round of drinks and food. (Everyone loves free food!) To gain entry, your employees just need to bring a friend who they think could be a good fit for the company. 

 

This type of event gives employees and TA leaders a chance to woo potential candidates by showing off the culture and workspace, as well as giving everyone a chance to ask casual questions. The pressure’s off, and everyone can see if it would be a good cultural fit.

 

Plus, hosting a referral event four times a year keeps the event top-of-mind for your employees. Throughout the year, as they meet up with their friends, attend networking events, or see posts from their connections on LinkedIn and elsewhere, they’ll be more likely to think about who they can invite to the next event.

 

Pro Tip: Using a CRM with an events module allows you to easily promote the event and follow up with guests by providing information about your company, benefits, and open requisitions.

2. Give recognition to employees who want to be seen as valuable colleagues.

Even if you do have bonuses in place, it’s still important to actively recognize employees for their ongoing referrals. This gives their efforts visibility and ensures their colleagues can see how they are contributing to the hiring effort. Another perk? Teams get even more excited to welcome new hires when they know they come highly recommended by one of their own.

 

Some ideas to recognize your referrers include:

 

  • Do you post about your new hires on LinkedIn? Tag the referrer in the post.

  • Do you announce new hires in an internal newsletter or other channel? Acknowledge who the referrer was in that announcement.

  • Do you have a quarterly town hall meeting where you introduce new hires? Mention who their referrers were.
     

Pro Tip: Don’t forget, it’s also valuable for your employees to share open jobs on their social networks, such as LinkedIn. Consider implementing a platform that allows them to easily share these listings and then track conversion rates on social shares. Employees with high conversion rates can then also be recognized for their efforts.

3. Encourage leadership to thank employees personally for helping the company.

Employees who are motivated by the bottom line will want to be recognized directly from the company’s leadership when they make a referral. There are several ways this can be achieved, from something small like your Director of Talent Acquisition giving them a gift card for every referral application to something as big as having the CEO award them with a weekend getaway for recommending hard-to-find talent.

 

Another low-key, yet effective way to say “thanks” is to have the hiring manager take out the referrer and the new hire to lunch. (Again, free food is a strong motivator!)

 

 

Another idea? Implement a personalized internal mobility portal.

Don’t want your workforce spending too much time on encouraging referrals? Or maybe you just want to try out all your options? Technology can also support your referral program. Consider implementing an AI-powered internal mobility portal, which delivers both personalization and ease-of-use to your employees, making the referral process a no-brainer.

 

Here’s how: Employees can log in to the portal, and once they connect their alumni and professional networks, they will receive perfect-fit referral recommendations for all your company’s open jobs. When they’re ready to make the referral, they simply fill out a couple of fields of information...No resume needed. Then—because transparency matters—they can track the hiring status of their referrals, from applied to screened to hired.

 

Want to see how an internal mobility module helps boosts referrals and evolves your current talent into the best talent? Request a demo to check out Phenom Internal Mobility.

Samantha is in content marketing at Phenom People, where she is passionate about enhancing every talent experience. She also enjoys photography, travel, reading nonfiction, and mythbusting.

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